Julianne Moore poised to bag Best Actress Oscar

Impressive act: Besides having won innumerable critics awards, Moore has also walked away with both the Cannes and Venice Film Festivals’ prestigious best Actress awards, the only American to have done so. Photo: EPA

The 54-year-old actress says she’s at a happy place in her life right now.

By right, Julianne Moore should have won both Golden Globes for best actress in a drama (Still Alice) and and best actress in a comedy (Map To The Stars) instead of just one.

But she’s a cinch to finally win the Oscar later this month for her bravely understated portrayal of an Alzheimer’s patient, capping a career of unforgettable performances in The End Of The Affair, Safe, Magnolia, The Hours, Far From Heaven, and The Kids Are Alright.

For a long time, after graduating from Boston University in 1983, she went largely unnoticed, doing off Broadway plays, appearing in daytime soaps, making forgettable TV movies, playing small roles in films like Benny And Joon and The Hand That Rocks The Cradle.

But then Robert Altman cast her in Short Cuts, and Hollywood beckoned.

What followed were disappointing roles opposite the likes of Hugh Grant, Sylvester Stallone, and Antonio Banderas.

But then she took a chance on a small independent movie called Boogie Nights, and that changed her life.

It was just about that time that she fell in love with Bart Freundlich, whom she met when he directed her in The Myth Of Fingerprints. They have been together ever since and have two children, Caleb andLiv.

Four years ago, they finally made it legal.

But what prompted that?

“ We were together a long time (13 years) without being married because of the bad experience I had with my first marriage. Divorce is incredibly difficult and not something I wanted to repeat ever,” the 54-year-old actress said.

“A lot of being married is about making sure it was everything everybody wanted, that we were in the place we wanted to be, and where we were going to stay. So our marriage was a culmination of all that.

“But it was also a way of publicly saying,’I am aligning myself with you and I will be your family,’ which is a very important thing to do. (She was previously married to actor John Gould Rubin for 10 years.)

Moore’s understated portrayal of an Alzheimer’s patient in Still Alice has won her many accolades, including the Golden Globes, Critics Choice and Screen Actors Guild.

So, has marriage changed the relationship? “Only for the better. It made it more solid, but it made a difference to our son who was old enough to know what was going on. He insisted on showing everyone our rings.

“We were married in our house, in our backyard. All our immediate families were there; so it was a very important thing. It’s made us a more solid family,” she explained.

Moore is no stranger to winning awards. Besides having won innumerable critics awards she has also walked away with both the Cannes and Venice Film Festivals’ prestigious Best Actress awards. The only American to have done so.

Amazingly candid, she admits to having campaigned for her role in End Of The Affair (writing an impassioned letter to director Neil Jordan) and almost turned down Magnolia because of scheduling conflicts.

Next page: Remembering why she wanted to become an actress

Moore is married with two children, son Caleb and daughter Liv. — AFP

“I received that book as a birthday present a couple of years before from a friend of mine who was a friend of Michael. It was accompanied by a note that said, ‘My friend wrote this book, and it’s really good.’

“So I read it, and I was just stunned. I loved it so much, but I thought they’d never make it into a movie. It’s so internal.

“And then I met Michael at this friend’s party and we ended up talking outside the bathrooms all night. I just loved him. And then I got a call from Scott Rudin, the producer, saying we’re doing this movie, and I was stunned. It literally fell in my lap.”

Far from Heaven was also preordained, in fact written with her in mind. Was she equally stunned?

“I had worked with Todd Haynes seven years earlier on Safe. I had desperately wanted to work with him again; so when he told me he had written this part for me, it was just an incredible gift. He called me, ‘Julie. would you read it? Do you think?’ I’m like, ‘Do I think? Of course I would.’ So I’ve been very fortunate,” she reminisced.

Besides Haynes, another director she’s remained loyal to was American wunderkind Paul Thomas Anderson, who directed her Oscar nominated performance in Boogie Nights and went on to international acclaim for There Will Be Blood and The Master.

“He was so mad at me because for a minute he thought I wasn’t going to be able to do Magnolia,” she remembered.

“I was working on something else and had gotten the script. He was going to shoot it some time in January. I told him I was doing The End Of The Affair at that time.

“He said, ‘Listen I just want you to know that I understand if you can’t do my movie. I totally understand. We’ll work again. Don’t worry.’

“After a few weeks he called, ‘So what’s going on? Do you have the dates? When am I going to know?’

“And then a couple of weeks would go by until finally he was screaming, ‘Why aren’t you doing my movie? Do my movie!’ And it really was incredibly flattering to have somebody want you that much. ‘Why aren’t you saying no to (The End Of The Affair director) Neil Jordan!’ I’m like, ‘Paul, please, come on.’”

Fortunately she was able to squeeze in two weeks (for Magnolia) before starting The End Of The Affair, for which she was nominated for an Academy Award.

Can she remember the first time she wanted to be an actress? Or was it something that others saw in her, as was the case with Meryl Streep, to whom she’s often been compared?

Moore replied: “That’s interesting you say that because I had a similar experience with reading aloud. When I was a kid, I read a lot. When you move around that’s one of the things you do. I was the kid that won the competitions for having read the most books in the library.

“So, when we started to read aloud in class, I couldn’t understand why other people had difficulty with it. I had such an affinity for it, which I think led to my becoming an actor.”

Was she thrilled when Robert Altman asked her to do Short Cuts? “Absolutely!” came the answer.

Did he have to persuade her to do the nudity?

“Actually, he said, ‘I want you to look at this very carefully because this is what occurs in the film. I want you to make sure you are comfortable with it. He was very upfront about it.”

And was she?

“I don’t have any reservations about nudity if it’s not superfluous. If it’s gratuitous or overtly exploitive – I mean I did nudity in (Madonna’s) Body Of Evidence, and it made me very uncomfortable – I won’t do it, but stuff that’s inherent to the story, doesn’t bother me.”

Did her academic training help her become a better actress? “Education helps absolutely. People may have a natural affinity to art, but a great teacher can help you to figure out how to put things together.”

Blessed with two children, Moore says that motherhood has given her infinite joy.

“Let’s say I haven’t had a moment of unhappiness since I became a mother. It gives you access to all different kinds of feelings.; it gives you your parents back. Suddenly you understand something you didn’t understand before, and it’s wonderful.

“It gives you a sense of connectedness, adds a balance to your life. I never imagined having a 12-year-old and a 16-year-old would be so wonderful.”

Looks like Moore is in a happy place now. “I feel solid about what’s going on in my life because everyone in my family is OK.

“Freud said you need both work and love; you have to have something that you believe in creatively, you need to have people to love, then you feel balanced.”

Come Oscar day, she’ll feel even better!

■ Philip Berk, eight-time president of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, hobnobs with celebrities to report exclusively from Los Angeles. Still Alice opens in selected cinemas today.

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